Guest Post Day – Respect each other – online and ‘real life’

BumblingAlong is taking part in @Erica‘s guest post day! Last time we were matched up with the lovely New Mummy. This time we have the equally lovely T-J Hughes, owner of bras4mums, Maternity & Nursing specialist bra fitters, and writer of blog Support4Women. As you’ll read below, we met recently – only she didn’t know 😉

So over to T-J:

I’m delighted to be writing for @BumblingTweets on this #guestpostday, because we ALMOST met last Saturday in the flesh.  So, I thought it was a good topic to explore. Why do some people remain anonymous online? Does it really matter?

Some people won’t connect online if you don’t have photo of yourself, or your profile isn’t complete. Is it so important that we see what someone else looks like before we commit to ‘liking’ or ‘following’ them? I quite like the fact that you don’t really know who people are, yet you can still exchange views and have conversations through comments on blogs and twitter.

I was amazed how many comments I got when I finally uploaded a recent, decent photo in early May, instead of a random ‘avatar’. People commented that it was ‘nice to see me’, and, ‘good to see who I’m talking to’. I felt quite chuffed that I was valued enough for people that I follow to comment on the change. People seemed to connect more with me as a person, and someone who runs a business and a family. But why? My tweets and blogs hadn’t changed in content?

So when I had a twitter conversation last Saturday morning with @BumblingTweets, before the NEC Baby Show to book an appointment for her Sister-in-law to get a bra fitting on my stand (bras4mums), I got all excited. I’m not a full-time tweeter, so when I have conversations with people I really enjoy the connection.

I wrote on the appointment sheet across a few spaces, “@BumblingTweets”, and expected that when they arrived they would introduce themselves. They didn’t. I was disappointed at the time, but why?

Hubby is quite happy not to remain anonymous. I on the other hand have times where I want to remain anonymous, but it’s impossible. Online I guess I want to become known so that people will know who I am, and what I do. In ‘real life’ I sometimes like to hide and pretend I haven’t seen someone so I can keep in my little world of make believe, or maintain my chill time. Is that wrong?

So why is it wrong for people to remain anonymous in other parts of their life? It’s not. We all have our reasons for doing what we do, and as long as we’re not hurting anyone else, physically or emotionally, then surely it’s up to us how we conduct ourselves? Do I give different bra advice to those women I haven’t met? No. All are treated the same.

Just like ‘terms of engagement’ in a business meeting, or personal relationships, there is also ‘blog etiquette’ and ‘what not to do on twitter’. There are certain things that are OK, and other things that are frowned upon. And if you don’t want to publish a photo, or engage in real life with someone you’ve met online then surely that’s fine. Who makes up the rules anyway? If you want to engage with someone who has a silly photo, or none at all, surely that’s up to you?

We all have our own expectations, our reasons, so I want to encourage everyone on this #guestpostday to show a little respect of each other. Acknowledge our similarities and value our differences – it’s what makes the world a better place us all working together.

I respect @BumblingTweets her for her anonymity and have this week learnt that everyone is not like me online. Just like ‘real life’!

Written by T-J Hughes, owner of bras4mums, Maternity & Nursing specialist bra fitters, and writer of blog Support4Women.

Thanks T-J for such a thought provoking post. It’s an issue I struggle with. If I’m absolutely honest, the reason I didn’t introduce myself to T-J as “bumblingtweets” is because it was a bit embarrassing! In real life, I’m a little embarrassed about my online life, even though it is probably a better reflection of the real me than the persona I project in real life.

And generally, the reason why I stay semi-anonymous on the blog and on twitter is because I’m a little nervous of people I know in real life finding me there, moaning about Moo’s lack of sleep, or asking what to do about her nasty cough. Because, as you will see over on T-J’s blog today, in real life I am a professional person, someone who needs to be seen as capable, competent, a safe pair of hands. My blog and twitter give me a chance to be the person behind the job, to wallow in my mummy-ness, and to express my non-work, non-mum self too – I’m learning to be more creative, and more opinionated!

But it’s certainly not that I don’t want to engage in real life with the people I engage with online. There are now a number of readers of this blog who know me in real life. There are a number of twitter friends I know in real life. And I’ll be speaking at Cybermummy, and it doesn’t take a genius to work out which speaker I am (although I’m not specifically linking the two up – you’ll have to come to find out for sure 😉

So, anonymous or open, or somewhere in between – which are you?

Baby Baby

No, I’m not bigging up one of the lovely MADs blogger finalists, although Sandy is a treasure! It’s more of a reflection of the evening I’ve just had.

My sister-in-law and her husband have come to stay. She’s 17 weeks pregnant, and all I can think about or talk about is babies! All she is hearing is my snippets of advice about what I would have done differently, what she should or shouldn’t buy, and what we can provide by the way of hand-me-downs.

But there is a part of me that is conscious that at 17 weeks, I was still pretty nervous, still superstitious about making too many plans. I really need to remember that she is likely to feel that way too, although the excitement with which she was listening to my ramblings was tangible…

Anyway, they are here for a reason. Those very kind folks at the Baby Show, taking place this weekend at the NEC, have given us some tickets to attend. My SIL and her very enthusiastic husband can’t wait – wish Hubbie had been quite so keen to do these kinds of things when we were expecting Moo! I’ve never been to a Baby Show before, so I’m not entirely sure what to expect, but there are plenty of exhibitors there we’re already making a beeline for.

The first is Bras4Mums – who come hightly recommended by my twitter friend @Cheshire_Claire, amongst others! Both SIL and I will hopefully be able to squeeze in a fitting – they have 3 fitting rooms open all weekend, and I hear that their bras can make every day a Good Boob Day!

Next, she wants to check out travel systems, and I think that the Baby Show will be a good opportunity to get hands on experience of them. Personally I’m a Bugaboo Bee girl, but maybe she’ll go for an Explory, or a Maclaren, or decide that she doesn’t need a fancy pram as she’s going to be babywearing.

She definitely wants to look at nappies too – what’s the current word on the environmental impact of reusables, or eco-friendly disposables? Hopefully tomorrow will help us find out.

And I’m wondering if any of the exhibitors will have baby shoes in a size 2.5 which aren’t pink…

Although the box office for the show is now closed, you can still get tickets on the door from £18, with children under 10 going free. It looks like a really good show, and I’m really looking forward to my first visit, even though my baby is rapidly turning into a toddler. If you can’t make it this weekend, the Baby Show will be back in October at Earls Court.

(Oh, and if any of you are planning on being around the Baby Show on Sunday, there are a whole bunch of twitterers meeting up – tweet me or Emma who has been rounding us all up, and one of us will let you know the details when we do!)

Paradise found? or lost?

As those of you who follow me on twitter will know, I recently set myself the task of finding a way to a playground I knew should, as the crow flies, be within walking distance of my house, but which I’d never been able to find a route through to. See, between us, and when google maps showed me the playground should be, there was this:

with no clear path through for those of use with buggies…

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I found it! It’s great, just some baby swings, some big swings, a couple of slides and some other bits and bobs (including a very cool piston based whistle thing… you’d understand if you saw it!).

Anyway, Moo and I had a great time at the swing park, she got in some good walking practice, still holding my hands, and had great fun on the swings (a word that has been repeated time and time again…). So I figured we should make it a regular event.

So we went again today. At school kicking out time. And there were some kids there – big (16/17ish), medium (12/13ish) and small (7ish), and a couple of babies came and went whilst we were there (Moo really loves those swings!). And everyone got on. Despite having a little niggle about whether there would be any problems with “youths”, I didn’t see any. It was lovely.

And so I decided to see if there was a quicker way home. There are paths through that coppice, and I was fairly sure there was access to it from the road behind us. So I ventured in…. and found this:

It was beautiful. And peaceful. I live in a housing estate of modern, lego-style box houses. It’s near a main road, a motorway and an airport, although it’s near fields, and the motorway gives us a handy escape away from the city. But here was a little glimpse of the country in the middle of suburbia (and explains all the brambles in my garden – the estate was clearly built on land that used to be like this!).

But there was a niggle in the back of my mind. I was a little afraid to be in there on my own, with Moo. It was too quiet. There was no-one else around. I kept trying to put my paranoia to the back of my mind. We should trust people. We should enjoy the solitude.

And then 3 boys in hoodies, with bandanas over their faces, came zooming past me on a motorbike.

Ah, that ideal world I think I live in. I’m afraid I won’t be going through there on my own again.

The Gallery: One of the worlds around me

Birmingham.

Yep, you heard me right. What does the sound of that city name conjure up for you?

Thick people? According to wikipedia, study was conducted in 2008 where people were asked to grade the intelligence of a person based on their accent and the Brummie accent was ranked as the least intelligent accent, even scoring lower than being silent (!).

Grey, smoggy, full of hard industry? Historically, Birmingham has been the home of industry, the workshop of the world. It’s less so now, but still pulls its weight.

Canals? Birmingham isn’t famous for a wide river flowing through the city, but it does famously have more canals than Venice, part of its industrial heritage.

But this isn’t the Birmingham I see. I chose to work in Birmingham as soon as I started my professional career, and I’ve been here for all my professional life. I love working and spending time in the city (although I’m a town, rather than city, girl at heart), and it’s a much more sophisticated place than people think. I remember bringing a university friend to the city, who’d never been north of Watford Gap, and as we walked into the civic and business district, he looked up at the old and majestic buildings and said “oh, it is a proper city!”.

And yes it is. It’s a great, friendly, varied city, where you can happily walk from shops, to theatres, to pubs, to clubs (ok, maybe stumble to that one). It’s not my hometown, but it is my chosen town. And I won’t hear a bad word said against it (unless by a fellow brummie, born and bred, or adopted).

This photo is a bit rubbish, taken on my iPhone on my way back to the office at lunchtime, having just partaken of a scrummie ostrich burger from the local farmers market, which takes place on a Wednesday every odd week of the month (yeah, I don’t really understand that either). But it’s a view I see every working day. A view which reminds me of my professional life outside of being a mummy.

One of my worlds.

This was a post in response to Tara’s brilliant Gallery, with this week’s prompt of “paint a picture of the world we live in”.  Please click over here to see the other entries from around the Internets.

The Gallery: Joy – yes really, bear with me here…

My photo for this week’s Gallery entry – Joy – may not seem obvious to all, but, as I say, please bear with me.

I could very happily post a gorgeous photo of Moo, with her daddy throwing her through the air, and the biggest grin on her face.

Or of me staring into her newborn face, struck with the joy of it all.

Or of my gorgeous nieces and nephew who just fill me with joy every time I see them.

But I’m sure there was a suggestion, at least on twitter, that smiling children were a no go. And anyway, that all goes without saying.

But other things fill me with joy too…

This is the first Google Production Server, from back in the old days of 1999. I photographed it at the Computer History Museum in California, just down the road from the Googleplex itself.

So, why oh why does it represent joy, I hear you asking? So many reasons…

1. The simple one. I’m a geek. We went to the Computer History Museum not expecting to spend long there – fill an hour before lunch perhaps. 4 hours later they were kicking us out because they were closing. It was fascinating! Everything from Charles Babbage to the first Apple, Zx81s and Air Defence Systems from the Cold War. There was so much to see, and the staff were so knowledgeable. If you are a geek, and visiting California, take a look – but allow more time than you might otherwise think…

2. It’s a Google production server! Google makes me joyous. It makes the whole world simpler. And OK, so I’m a little scared they are getting too big to really “do no evil” but I have a very soft spot for them. And the googleplex is amazing…

3. It reminds me of my time in California. I LOVE California. In particular, I love the fact that it’s OK out there to be enthusiastic. To love things. To be interested, to want to know more. There is no need to by cynical, or fashionably detached. They are optimistic. The American Dream really is available for all to strive towards. I’m not suggesting it’s utopia. I know it has the same problems every where else does. But I just felt that when I was there, it was ok to be me. It was ok to be whoever you wanted to be. It’s ok to feel joy, and to express it. Even if the thing you are joyous about is a production server…

But that might all be because:

4. It reminds me of my sister. The reason I spend any time in California is because my big sister lives there. She left to go to the US when I was 18, and it’s a good job my other sister and I keep doing things like getting married and having babies, as those are really the only reasons she’s been back since!

We didn’t know each other well when she left. But as I grew up, went to University, got a job, discovered the Internet, we got to know each other better. And whilst she’s on the other side of the world, she’s also just there in the top right hand corner of my computer screen, hovering in the Instant Messaging box. We share some similar traits – a love of writing, technical rather than creative, a love of learning, a love of strange and interesting facts. We’re interested. And I don’t have many people here that I can share that side of me with. Big sis surrounds herself with similar people over in the US, and every time the Hubbie and I visit, we feel right at home. Ourselves. And that certainly makes me feel joy.

This was a post in response to Tara’s brilliant Gallery, with this week’s prompt of “Joy”.  Please click over here to see the other entries from around the Internets.

Postscript:

*ahem* this big sis is the only real life person I’ve mentioned the blog to. So, big sis, I promise I’ve not just said nice things because you might read them. I would have written them anyway. And I mean them!

The Gallery: Ugly is as ugly feels…

This photo isn’t ugly. I hope.

I wanted to pick a photo which would represent my worst, most ugly, quality. Jealousy.

I host a terribly voracious green-eyed monster inside me. It rears itself in otherwise perfect situations. This happened to be one of them, but I could have chosen many. An anniversary party for some old friends. At a beautiful stately home. With a silver service dinner, and canapés, no less. An friends from university. And their friends…

City lawyers, mainly. Earning 6 figure salaries, driving 4x4s, living in trendy areas of London. With small children benefitting from all the advantages money can buy.

This is the side that I should not see, but do see. And wonder why I don’t have what they have.

And the answer is always that I could have it. I choose not to though.

I choose to have time to spend with my husband and my beautiful daughter.

I choose to have less stress in my life from work.

I choose to live close to my family, and within a reasonable commute to work.

The green-eyed monster is ugly. I try to keep him under control, under wraps. But he pokes his head out from time to time.

This was a post in response to Tara’s brilliant Gallery, with this week’s prompt of “ugly”.  Please click over here to see the other entries from around the Internets.

Nothing to see here…

Just a boring old Technorati claim:

7D4SH4NMRGUC

Let’s see if it works.

Independent from the start

“New babies love swaddling – it makes them feel like they are in their mother’s womb, close and safe and sound. Put them in a moses basket – helps them feel contained”.

It took a few weeks before I cottoned on to the full implications of trying to do this. Moo wouldn’t be swaddled, that was clear from the start – she would squirm and squirm until she had freed herself from her prison (although my mum could bind her up so tight only houdini could get out!). But we continued with the moses basket. Even though every time she feel asleep she would wake herself by putting out her arms which would hit the sides.

One night, Hubbie was away, and I decided to try an experiment. Let’s try her in her cot. I’ll sleep on the floor in the nursery, and we’ll see how she gets on. She had the soundest night sleep she had ever had (wish I had – the floor was not comfy!), and the following day Hubbie was sent out to get a travel cot which would fit in our bedroom.

“Babies love milk. It’s a real comfort thing for them, as well as nutrition. Feed on demand”.

That only works if your baby demands food. Fodder for a future post I think, but Moo wasn’t interested, so I had a feed on a schedule, or she would have had 5 or 6 ounces a day.

“Calpol. The drug of the baby masses. Works wonders – they ask for more!”.

Hmmm. Not so much. We have discovered Lloyds Pharmacy own brand paracetemol which Moo tolerates (cherry flavour, don’t you know). But any of the strawberry flavour brands – no way.

“Routine. Babies love routine. Bath, bottle, story – that’s the way to a good night’s sleep”.

Maybe for your child, not for mine. We tried for weeks… But bath, bottle, yes. And then another hour of playing. And then snatched from the toys at the first eye rub, given a 10 second cuddle and chucked in the cot with a “mummy loves you”. That’s how bedtime works best in our house.

“Babies roll around 6 months. Crawl by 10 months and take their first steps between 9 and 12 months”.

Really? Moo is now coming up on 16 months. She has only started to roll in the last month or so. She could do it before, she just didn’t want to. She crawled for the first time last night, only for a couple of feet, but still!

But she moved, boy did she move! Around 10 months, she discovered her own form of locomotion – bum-shuffling. With her little legs going like the clappers, heels dug in, legs moving in a frog like motion to propel her across the floor, arms joining in if she wanted to pick up speed. Her little calves are red raw from rubbing against the carpet, and the bums of all her tights and trousers are ruined! But she was happy doing this. She could carry things, and keep her head up. She never wanted to crawl.

Unfortunately it meant that she was rather Dalek-like, and couldn’t get around if the surface wasn’t flat…

But she’s standing now. Not pulling herself up on the furniture. Just sitting in the middle of the floor, getting her feet under her, hands on the ground, and using her balance and tummy muscles to pull herself up!

And she’ll walk. Not cruising round the furniture, but holding your hands.

And whilst babysitting, Nanny introduced her to the joy of walking up the stairs. Which is now a favourite. Must get that stair gate for the bottom step soon.

She’s doing it all. In her own sweet way and time, but she’s doing it.

And I love her all the more for that.

The Gallery: Outside, or rather inside, my front door

Tara has again challenged us to post our weekly photo, and this time the prompt was “Outside my front door”.

Unfortunately, my problem this week is that I have spent too much time outside of that front door, and not enough time thinking of photos! Tara wanted to know where we were, what our surroundings were like, but as my photo doesn’t quite capture that, I’ll describe it for you.

I live in a large town on the outskirts of a large city. My little part of the town is a bit like toy town – lots of little box-like houses standing in their little squares of garden, keeping themselves to themselves. It’s suburbia, but it’s green, and it’s safe and it’s close to escape routes, including my personal favourite the motorway which can take me miles away in no time at all…

Right outside our front door, which you can see in the picture, is not pretty. If I’m honest, we’re letting the neighbourhood down, and the lawn hasn’t been mowed since last summer.

But Moo loves it. If she hears the slightest noise that suggests to her that the front door is open, she’s on her way. She will spend, if permitted, hours just sitting on the door mat, shouting “hiya” at any passers-by or magpies which deign to visit her lawn. She declares a heartfelt “oof oof” if someone walks past with a dog. She resolutely drops anything she can off the doorstep, and looks down at it, forlornly, with a distraught “uh oh…*.

So, whilst two-a-penny to others who may see it, outside my front door is special to me because of the little one who loves to sit inside my front door, watching the world go by.

(and who can resist those little toes…)

Please visit sticky fingers on Wednesday to see everyone else’s entry!

The Gallery: Me in the fluff

I was going to post me in the flesh, but that’s a sight no-one wants to see.

So who am I?

I’ve always been pooh bear.  This was my Winnie-the-Pooh when I was a teenager (yes, I know), and now he lives in Moo’s cot, and she cuddles him at night.

I’m a little bit round in the middle.  I like to sit and think. I’m kind. I want people to be happy. I want them to be my friend…

I like to think of life simply. If you can’t work it back to first principles, there’s no point. I have a sign above my desk at work declaring:

“I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me.”

in a hope to inspire the young lawyers I support to use plain English and make sure they are understood, rather than look clever. It doesn’t always work.

He also said:

“Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again?”,

and the answer to that is very definitely yes.

And had the conversation I often feel like I’m having:

“I don’t see much sense in that,” said Rabbit. “No,” said Pooh humbly, “there isn’t. But there was going to be when I began it. It’s just that something happened to it along the way.”

Pooh teaches us that friendship is important. That being kind is important. That love is important. That the journey we take is important, and we should always look for the good in each other, in life, and in our situations.

And just in case this post comes across in a way other than that intended, I will seek solace in the following:

“When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.”

This is my second post for The Gallery, and this is Week 4, where the theme is “Me”.